Magazine


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The Meal Back Then, Self Portrait. Rockport, Maine, 2003 © Cig Harvey

Cig Harvey is a fellow ex-pat Brit, living in Maine. Cig's images are breathy, expansive, dreamy, and packing a colorful punch. After a personal introduction Cig posted me a copy of her new bright-red book 'You Look At Me Like An Emergency' and I consumed it like a tube of fruit gums.

'Emergency' is "A book of photographs and text about a life being lived." The storybook opens with the statement "Photography is my way of slowing the world down and creating order from chaos" and interspersed throughout are snatches from a personal diary. "He said, 'Your hair is so wonderfully disheveled.' I thought 'you should see the inside of me.'"

View the aCurator full screen magazine photography feature.



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Li, China, Brazil © James Mollison

"Where Children Sleep" is an important, beautifully executed book and exhibition from photographer James Mollison. aCurator is publishing a selection in two parts.

View the full screen magazine photography feature, part 1.

View the full screen magazine photography feature, part 2.

"When, in 2004, Fabrica (Benetton's creative research centre) asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children's rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. From the start, I didn't want it just to be about 'needy children' in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. It seemed to make sense to photograph the children themselves, too, but separately from their bedrooms, using a neutral background.

My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children's material and cultural circumstances - the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other - while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals... just as children.

Millions of families around the world sleep together in one room, and millions of children sleep in a space of convenience, rather than a place they can in any sense call their room. I came to appreciate just how privileged I am to have had a personal kingdom to sleep in and grow.

For me, the project became a vehicle to think about issues of poverty and wealth, about the relationship of children to personal possessions, and the power of children - or lack of it - to make decisions about their lives. But this book is not a campaign. There's nothing scientific about the selection of children featured: I travelled where I could, often alongside other projects, and many of the pictures result from chance encounters, following my photographer's nose. I am not qualified to give anyone a lecture on the state of childhood today, or the future of children's rights. Although I have relied on the help of Save the Children, Italy, there is no agenda to the book other than my own journey and curiosity, and wanting to share in pictures and words the stories that I found interesting, or that moved me.

In the end, I hope the pictures and the stories in this book speak to children. Yes, so that lucky children (like I was) may better appreciate what they have. But more than that, I hope this book will help children think about inequality, within and between societies around the world, and perhaps start to figure out how, in their own lives, they may respond." James Mollison Venice, May 2010

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Alex, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil © James Mollison

"Where Children Sleep" was published in 2010 by Chris Boot and is available for purchase.

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Unknown Soldier, 2011 © Marcin Owczarek

And now for something completely different. "My name is Marcin Owczarek and I am an artist who creates in the spirit of Surrealism."

Marcin Owczarek was born in Wroclaw, Poland in 1985 and studied photography there. He admires Dadaism as well as Surrealism. "I regard my critical collages as the prediction of human degradation. Man is imperfect. Man is a savage, greedy rebel of Nature. I stress the present process of dehumanization, mechanization and standardization of human race, false norms and illusional values that are given as the truth to society by religion, governments, laws, propaganda, the false mirror of the television..."

Focusing on the issues of mechanization and standardization, he tackles them in an antiutopian style, depicting the total capture of the spirit by the machine world. He reflects: "In the times of old Celtic celebrations there were enormous figures made of wood or cane, filled with living people and them burned. I have the impression that nowadays we have superseded these Celtic figures by concrete blocks of flats, dead peninsulas, where we undergo geometrical unification and from which we shout 'like martyrs being burnt alive while still giving songs of life from their stakes'. (Artaud)"

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Visit Marcin on Facebook.

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© Ted Morrison

With this marvelous series, Ted Morrison demonstrates the importance of personal work. Fully embracing a challenge he set for himself, the results prove that personal projects can rejuvenate your creativity, broaden your interests and perhaps keep you sane. Ted, who might spend months on a project with a client, suggests being busy with paid work tends to lead to a death of proactivity outside of the job you're doing. Hearing how I bang on about the importance of coming up with and embracing ideas for new projects, Ted literally got off his chair and headed to Maine accompanied only by his cameras and a new obsession.

Only accessible under certain conditions, Ted made trips to Acadia during summer and autumn last year. The results are beautiful and dramatic. I'd like to be under the sea!

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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In The Final Throes, New Jersey, 2011 © Michael Massaia

Michael Massaia is an incredibly productive, young, self-taught, technically impressive photographer. He doesn't look like a stalker, he isn't creepy, but he does sneak about a lot in the wee hours in places he probably ought not. Obviously Michael works with large format cameras; there is no trickery, just patience and masterful film processing and printing techniques. Michael describes his images as one-shot scenes that have been pushed to their limit. He talks about developing with Pyro allowing for huge, grainless prints that he makes himself. 

Michael has already been on the walls at AIPAD so I suspect all he needs to continue on this stellar path is a few more hours in the day (or night). At Gallery 270 in New Jersey, they reckon he eats only occasionally and may sleep just two or three hours every other day...

See Michael's work in its best format - large prints from the compelling series Seeing The Black Dog, Massaia's project on long-distance trucking will be on view at J Cacciola Gallery in NYC, opening May 3rd. 


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Untitled from the series 'Channel 247' Brooklyn, NY, 2011 © Hye-Ryoung Min

I met the delightful Hye-Ryoung Min at a portfolio review and she got me hooked on the show she'd been covering on Channel 247.

In her teens, Hye-Ryoung couldn't help but think that somebody was watching her all the time. "I had to act as a main actress in some kind of movie which made me feel self-conscious wherever I went. This might be typical of many other teenagers and it might even play a part in how one creates a sense of self. I remember when the movie 'The Truman Show' came out in 1998. It opens with the question: "What if you were watched every moment of your life?" It completely matched my imagination. The movie went on to show how Truman would really feel after he realized the truth of his condition. Which leads me to ask: how different is our behavior when we are conscious of others around us? And what do involuntary actions tell or reveal about us?"

"I had five television sets at home. Three of them were in the living room and two were in the back, one in the bedroom and the other one in the kitchen. By "televisions" I actually mean windows. The three windows in the living room had the most interesting and varied shows and actors, since they give out on the main boulevard with its constant flow of people and situations. But I also enjoyed the daily shows in the backyard featuring a more regular cast of actors and private moments.
 
This kind of programming had a loose schedule and no guarantees that shows would play on time. For the most part, it was all silent film and the story lines were pretty much repetitive. However, I started noticing subtle nuances and differences from day to day. Repetition helped me understand actors' basic characters; nuance and difference offered me clues into their hidden stories." Hye-Ryoung Min, 2012.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Lunchtime, 2001 © Roger Ballen

US-born artist Roger Ballen studied psychology and geology; he talks about peering into the earth, and we see that he also peers into humanity. Living in South Africa since the late 70s Ballen photographed exclusively in the wild until he brought his camera and flash inside in the early 80s, finding motifs in the poor rural communities that he would use in later work. He does not sketch his scenes in advance, knowing that one can't predict too much. People say his work is dark... "The reason most people say these pictures are disturbing is they can't deal with their own repression."

Ballen has a new exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery in England 'Shadow Land: Photographs by Roger Ballen 1983-2011' opening March 30th, and another at Marta Herford, Germany, opening April 22nd, 2012.

View the aCurator full screen photography feature

Ballen has known the band members of Die Antwoord for several years and in a befitting collaboration they recently produced this music video for 'I Fink U Freeky.'

 


Order your copy of 'Photographs Not Taken', a collection of short essays by photographers including Ballen's story 'The Cat Catcher.'

Also, "The Roger Ballen Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of education of photography in South Africa. RBF creates and supports programmes of the highest quality to further the understanding and appreciation of the medium. Working with artists from around the world, our program enables students and general audiences to engage with notable contemporary photographic art that would otherwise not be seen in South Africa."

Quotes from hypnotic video and audio interviews with Lens Culture. Further reading: recent article on Time's Lightbox.

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"American Girl In Italy" 1951 © Ruth Orkin

As a member of the American Photography Archives Group, in my role representing the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, I sit among some truly great archivists, including relatives of Ernst Haas, Phillipe Halsman, Inge Morath, Gordon Parks and many more. The founder of this group is the inimitable Mary Engel, daughter of photographers Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, who also works hard representing her parents' archives.

Daughter of a silent film actress, Ruth Orkin had an early interest in film movies and was the first messenger girl at MGM Studios! "Orkin wanted to become a cinematographer; however, women were not allowed to join the union. It was not until the 1950′s when she and her husband Morris Engel made their first independent feature film "Little Fugitive." Truffaut credited the film with helping to start the French New Wave."

In Mary's words: "My mother, Ruth Orkin, had many loves. Photography and travel were two of them. When she was 17, my mother took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She photographed Tanglewood's summer music festivals, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became "a full-fledged photojournalist." In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel. From there she went to Italy, and it was in Florence that she met Jinx Allen (now known as Ninalee Craig), a painter and fellow American.

The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when my mother had an idea. "Come on," she said, "lets go out and shoot pictures of what it's really like." In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked Military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while my mother photographed her. They had a lot of fun, as the photograph, "Staring at the Statue", demonstrates. My mother's best known image, "American Girl in Italy" was also created as part of this series."

aCurator is pleased to publish some of the rest of this photo shoot.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Alfredo Gutierrez makes portraits of homeless Americans who come to Tijuana because life on the street is cheaper here than in neighboring California. © Stefan Falke

Whilst working on his project on the Moko Jumbies of Trinidad, Stefan Falke met a costume designer from Mexico who introduced him to one of Mexico's foremost artists, Marta Palau, and Stefan's idea for a project photographing artists along the US-Mexican border began to develop.

"With my long-term project 'La Frontera' I want to examine the cultural and humanitarian activities on both sides of a border that keeps the United States and Mexico apart with a wall of steel already 600 miles long. The turf wars of drug cartels, arms trafficking and rampant kidnappings have turned cities like Tijuana and Juarez into some of the most dangerous places on earth. Despite the violence many artists, photographers, architects, poets, humanitarians, teachers, live and work in the shadow of the wall on both sides, and have a positive influence on this region; they are the focus of this project. Over time I plan to cover the entire length from the Atlantic to the Pacific." Stefan Falke

Stefan's first show of this work opens March 9th, 2012 at La Casa Del Tunel Art Center,
Colonia Federal, Tijuana BC, México. The Center is built over an old tunnel running under the border.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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© Stefan Falke

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March For Jobs, Peace & Freedom. Washington D.C., August 1983 © Margaret McCarthy

Portfolio reviews are earnest affairs, I've heard them called "stuffy," so it's notable when one finishes one's 10 minutes of speed dating with tears of laughter rolling down one's cheeks which is how it was when I met Margaret McCarthy for the first time and she showed me 'Late Night Animals' - yes, photographs of animals that featured as guests on various late night talk shows. Margaret went on to have a show of the series in New York.
 
However, it seems as good a time as any for some photographs of protests. As an aside, I hit the streets for my first protest at age 14 under Margaret Thatcher - Meryl Streep won best actress in the Oscars last night for portraying her in a film I wouldn't see even if you promised to keep me in milk for the rest of my life.
 
So, my alternative title for this story is 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.'

"The 1980's and 1990's are often portrayed as decades of greed and apathy when social activism vanished. In fact, those times spawned vigorous and committed opposition to a rapidly escalating nuclear arms race and U.S. activities in Central America. A military draft threatened to unfairly target black and inner city youth. Frustration over the treatment of women and same sex couples reached a slow boil as the AIDS crisis hit and abortion rights were continually attacked. We realized the environment was in trouble. A sea change occurred then: the awareness of how all these issues were connected. The cost of war could no longer be separated from issues of racism and poverty; the status of women reflected our relationship to the earth. March events then tended to be multi-issued, asking people to rally around a united consciousness; they cut across lines of race, sex, gender preference, economic status and age.

Color slide film, with its saturated hues, captured the visual richness and drama of these events, as well as the humor and irreverence of their participants. These events were truly 'living theatre' with a message - protest as a creative act. It was important to me to witness and document this pageant of American history not often discussed or acknowledged. Occupy Wall Street was preceded by large-scale demonstrations in opposition to the Iraq War; those were historically connected to the activism of the 1980's and 90's. The anti-war movement of the '60's eventually evolved into a peace movement, which birthed a consciousness of how all the important issues we face are related.

Today a new generation of young activists infuses fresh energy into the peace and social justice movements. I continue to document this multi-cultural, multi-generational activism, hoping to capture its wit, vision, its creative spirit and its fresh sense of urgency.

So what's really changed? (Other than my using digital cameras now?) Look at the jubilant faces of the newly married same sex couples in front of city hall. Look at the in-your-face signs of the young women marching to protect not just abortion rights now, but birth control. Look at the signs from Zuccottti Park; the human mic asks: What is our highest and best future?" - Margaret McCarthy, February, 2012

Continuing her work photographing protests, Margaret hit the streets for 'The Line' march today. "5,000 citizens formed a 3 mile line on Broadway, from the Bull at Bowling Green to Union Square and held up pink slips from 8:14 am to 8:28 a.m. today on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. It was a protest to represent 14 million Unemployed Americans & demand action from congress & corporations."

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